I'm going to test my mettle next Saturday at a local paddleboard race. The race is part of a series hosted by "Calusa Ghost Tours," a local kayak/sup outfitter. The proceeds from the race fee will fund the Bonita Springs Historical Society, which is doing some things that I really like, such as helping raise money to preserve the old-timey Everglades Wonder Gardens zoo/park/art-gallery in my neighborhood.
The race is a 4.5 mile round trip down and back up a section of the black-water Imperial River. It's the same area I usually paddle when the wind and surf are down and I just need to get on the water.
I'll use the Exocet WindSUP 11'8" with a small weed-fin. Even though the WindSUP is heavy, it has good glide and I think it will paddle faster on flat water than my Angulo 10'4". I tried the course last night and finished in 1:08 paddling pretty close to as hard as I could. I would need to be finishing about 20 minutes faster to win the race, based on the previous winners times, but I think I'll at least be able to stay somewhere in the pack. I'm going to make it a personal goal (maybe a long term goal) to bring my time down to 1:00 even. To help me towards that end I'll need to practice my padding technique and improve my cardiovascular fitness and core strength. I'm also trying a technological fix, by shortening my paddle by about 20 cm. (Since I got the paddle it has definitely been too long, but I never bothered to adjust it because I wasn't trying to maximize by paddling speed or anything.) We'll see how it all works out.